Though last year’s Peabody-Burns track and field team took 60 percent of its personnel to state, the figure was more impressive than the size of the contingent.
“Last year we had a really small squad,” new coach Brian Simmons said. “We had five athletes out. When you take three athletes out of your five to state, that shows the quality of kids that we were able to have.”
Simmons, who previously coached the high school track team from 1996 to 2001, is hoping to keep the number of athletes who travel to state this May in the 60 percent or above range, but it will be a tougher goal this year with the number jumping from five to 17 students going out for the sport.
“We’ve got a lot of freshman and picked up a few kids who decided to come out,” Simmons said.
The elevation in numbers is partly due to new members, including nine freshmen.
The team also includes newcomer seniors Paige Murray and Tony Adams, juniors Mathew Montigny, Margaret Beal, and Lane Markham, and sophomore Breanna Lett.
Two returning seniors, Austin Reynolds and Andrew Wedel, went to state track last year.
“The girls are trying to get in a 4x100 and 4x400 relay,” Simmons said. “The boys are mainly in individual events, but we are looking to see if can pull together relays as the season goes along, and we find out what the strengths and weaknesses of our athletes are.”
For newcomer Adams, Simmons hopes to have him throwing javelin and shotput.
The team’s first meet is April 4 in Herington, but the team has been having to adjust its practices to changes thanks to Kansas’s ever-changing weather.
“We’ve had to move practices indoors because we also have been hampered a little by all the sickness running around the schools,” Simmons said. “Now we’re going into spring break, and I’m hoping my athletes will continue their workouts, since there are no scheduled practices over break.”
After spring break, the team will have six days to prepare for its first meet in Herington, and then have two days to prepare for a meet in Marion.
“It’s going to be a challenge for us to work through and continue development while we also get into shape and figure out what events everyone is going to do,” Simmons said.
With the larger number of participants on the team come new possibilities.
“We are hoping that maybe we can place better as a team,” Simmons said. “We are hoping these numbers still develop, but since we are a younger team this year, we will have to do a lot of development as well.”